merry christmas sign in windowI suppose in an attempt to spread the opposite of holiday cheer, a Rasmussen report has confirmed for at least the third year in a row that most American adults -- 70 percent! -- prefer stores greet customers with "Merry Christmas" as opposed to "Happy Holidays." Oh, dear. Nothing like some good old-fashioned "U.S.A.!" discrimination to make this time of year even more stressful!

When I read something like this, I can't help but recall my Midwestern suburban childhood, during which I was one of the only -- if not the only -- Jewish kids in school, from kindergarten on up through senior year. Plenty of teachers were happy to have me give a little speech to the class about the eight-day Festival of Lights or to include "The Dreidel Song" in our holiday choir show. But, at the same time, being wished an exclusive "Merry Christmas" (not "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!" -- there is a distinction) by neighbors and in stores never failed to get on my nerves.

Over the years, despite moving to an area where I'm not a minority at all, not much has changed. No, I'm not being a total Grinch. I appreciate the "Merry Christmas" sentiment! I think, "Why, thank you, I'll certainly have a merry Christmas ... while partaking in my family's typical December 25 tradition of Chinese food and a movie!" But the blatant neglect of different religions and cultures irritates me all the same, on behalf of my fellow Jews, and Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, agnostics, all of whom are also Americans.

Yes, I get it. We're a tiny, measly group compared to the 76 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Christians (which might explain the almost exact match-up to the percent who prefer "Merry Christmas" over "Happy Holidays"). But that doesn't mean we should be slighted, ignored, or outright disrespected this time of the year.

Regardless of how FOX News types constantly attempt to spin it, saying "Happy Holidays" isn't overly PC, and it doesn't detract from Christmas. It's the most humanitarian, diplomatic, and oh yeah, sensible sentiment to offer a stranger or for retail stores to wish their customers. It's an acknowledgment that not every American celebrates Christmas. That there are those of us out there who celebrate holidays other than Christmas (and even they don't fall in December, there's always New Year's, which I've always figured "Happy Holidays" encompasses). And after all, isn't the message of the holidays "peace on Earth, good will toward men"?

I'm not talking about going to extremes, you know, like asking that a mall/town/store rename their Christmas tree a "holiday tree." (Although if they have a tree, they should also have a menorah and perhaps some secular symbols prominently displayed.) But when it comes to season's greetings in a civil/public place, "Happy Holidays" is certainly the expression for the job.

Where do you fall in this debate?

 

Image via Jon Curnow/Flickr